I said goodbye to an old friend last Saturday. We had been together for years, and even though it was my wife who first introduced us, she was happy to see this particular relationship come to an end. There weren't any tears. There were no hard feelings. All relationships, a therapist once counseled me, eventually end. For more than two decades, we had been through wind, rain, summer, spring and fall. Together. Now it's over.
Don't panic. You probably didn't know this shirt. It was my Saturday morning running shirt, and not it is strips of shredded mostly cotton. When all was said and done, the remnants weren't really suitable for anything. Not even rags. Now what I have are memories.
When I first moved in with my wife, I explained to her that I had a certain number of T-shirts that I wore when I took my daily runs. She was the one who surmised that certain number ought to be seven. As the proud owner of many of the nation's T-shirts, it was my wife's polite suggestion that I simply put a few of those less important or meaningful souvenirs into the exercise rotation. I had a couple that were able to make that transition, but I still ended up a couple shirts shy of a week. When I came home from work one afternoon, my wife presented me with a gift: She bought a pair of T-shirts from a thrift store for a dollar each. One of them was a winner: A commemorative shirt from the class of Northgate HIgh's class of '95. I didn't go to Northgate, nor did I know anyone who did. I had graduated fifteen years before that. What made this piece of somebody else's used clothing interesting to me was Northgate's mascot. Then Northgate Broncos. I'm a Broncos fan. It wasn't a Denver Broncos shirt, so I didn't have to feel bad about getting it all sweaty or laundering it excessively. It was a one dollar shirt.
I wore that shirt out. Once a week for the past twenty years, I've pulled that shirt over my head and gone out into the world for a run. Somewhere during that time it became my habit to wear the Northgate Broncos shrit on Saturdays. It made sense for me because my Friday shirt was a Colorado Buffaloes shirt. It provided me with a ritual. Rituals with totems: Buffaloes and Broncos. And now, one of them is gone. I let my wife tear the last bits of the shirt she bought for me way back when off my back. That was a ritual too.